Popovic takes 2012 Australian PGA first round lead

ROOKIE 26-year-old Victorian golfer Daniel Popovic will take a two stroke lead into the second round of the Australian PGA Championship after firing an 8-under 64 at Palmer Coolum Resort.

The young Victorian showed up his more experienced rivals in an impressive display, at one stage carding five consecutive birdies.

Popovic is playing his first year on the PGA Tour of Australasia after winning Qualifying School at the end of 2011.

“That was some of the best golf that I have ever played in my life and there were times there that I was even surprising myself at how confident I was with the way that I was hitting it,” he said.

Speaking to media after his round, Popovic talked of his parents Radi and Mila and his motivation to perform well on the biggest stage.

“My mum and dad will be over the moon, my dad will be in tears and so will my mum,” he said.

“My father earlier on in the year found out that he has cancer and it really shook me around a lot and it still sort of does when I think about it. But I find a lot of strength in him with how he is fighting and how he really wants me to push forward with my golf, and I find happiness through him.”

In second place at 6-under par is West Australian Scott Strange who has struggled with consistency, battling his own demons and family tragedy.

“I lost my sister to cancer and had a few other problems with my mum and dad; it just took a while to process all of that. I was over in Europe and it was hard to deal with stuff when you are a long way from home – you can’t go and talk to your family. I’m a completely different person now and I’m in a better place,” said Strange who is unfortunately without status on the European Tour after missing at the recent Q School.

“At Q School I played pretty bloody good and didn’t really roll too many putts in. If I managed to roll putts in there I would have had my European card back, but that’s the nature of the beast. Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

The 2008 winner of this event Geoff Ogilvy sits a further stroke back on 5-under after a round aided by two eagles.

“I felt like I got away with it,” Ogilvy said. “I mean the two eagles I had were a really long putt from off the green and a chip in, so I kind of snuck away with a couple today.”

He is tied with OneAsia talents Zhang Xin Jun of China and Choo Tze Huang of Singapore while Jason Scrivener, Ryan Haller, Stephen Dartnall and 2012 Emirates Australian Open winner Peter Senior are at 4-under.

Tournament drawcard Greg Norman was forced to withdraw from the event after just two holes due to a bout of food poisoning.

2012 Australian PGA Championship Leaderboared Round 2 Tee Times

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